The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rankin Arts Photography Center Artist Talk

March 11, 2015, 7:14

Those attending an artist’s talk come to hear the artist tell them how the work happened and perhaps to glean something to spark their own work. I hope this satisfies you all.

I want to start by saying calling myself an artist sounds a bit pompous to my ears. I take pictures. I don’t put on my Ansel Adams shades and stalk around “making images”. I look, see, and shoot a picture – something that catches my eye. I take pictures for me – things I like. If someone else likes it – that is an extra, but I always say shoot for yourself, don’t worry if everyone else will like it. Because guess what – not everyone will like it. I like to throw ‘art’ in front of photographer if someone asks me what I do so they won’t start telling me about someone they know has a new baby and want to get photos done. I don’t shoot babies or kids, weddings, etc. unless I know you well and like you.

All of these images are titled by date and time shot. It gives the viewer a reference point. As I went back through the photos, I was amazed to see that I had two images from December 26, a year apart.

Everyone wants a formula for a great photo. They ask things like; what camera do you use? What lens? What was your fstop, shutter speed, ISO? Did you use a filter? Did you Photoshop it?
Here are my usual answers:
  • ·      I use whatever camera I have on hand; iPhone, point and shoot, DSLR
  • ·       If I am using the DSLR, I usually use my Canon 50mm 1.4 – I love it. If I need to be closer, I use a Tamron 70-300.
  • ·       I have no idea on shutter speed – I am a depth of field shooter. I go for wide open or close to it on my aperture. For ISO I keep it low to keep colors rich.  As you can tell I don’t like a lot in focus. Sometimes there is nothing in focus. I keep white balance on auto, unless I am looking to throw a little blue in the shot – then I switch it to Tungsten.
  • ·       I always have a UV filter on the camera – even my point and shoots if they have the capability. I hate lens caps – I hate keeping up with them, so I take it off – stuff it in some pocket of some camera bag, never to be seen again and slap a UV filter on the lens to protect it from scratches. I like a polarizing filter. I like sunglasses – I think my camera does too. Every now and then if I really want to slow down the shutter and it is bright – I use a neutral density filter, maybe even stacking it with my circular polarizer.
  • ·       I love my camera, I tolerate my computer. I Photoshop (with Elements) the contrast and levels a little. Most of my editing is conversion to black and white using the Nik Software, Silver Efex. I love that and their Analog Efex. The Where the Water Used To Be shots are all done with my Fuji X20 in color and converted in Analog Efex. Every now and then I get a little crazy, or bored, and will Photoshop the heck out of something – layers, textures, weird colors, you name it. And I usually like it when I am finished. But a steady diet of that makes me cranky. Just like HDR makes me cranky – a very light touch on that is all someone needs, if they need it at all. When I look at a photo and see unnatural lights and darks – I just don’t like it. Now, if you like it – go for it. You are pleasing yourself, not me. Many of these Morning Walk images are processed, some with layers. The photos were processed all on my phone and usually within an hour of taking the shot. It was very responsive to my mood of the morning; shot, processed, saved – done.

Most photographers can learn and practice to shoot technically sound images – getting something tack sharp. Most people can hone the skill of seeing. Moving beyond just shooting something because it is pretty or would make a good photo is another skill worthy of development. Anyone interested in photography should move in this direction. The why? Why shoot it – and the answer isn’t because someone else did and you want the shot or because you saw something similar and liked it.

My photographs come from memory. I spent my childhood walking in the woods with one grandfather and listening to the other talk to me about the sky and the weather. They both worked extensive gardens. I am drawn to water. I love water. The first house I lived in as a baby is now sitting at the bottom of a man-made lake. Perhaps that is why I like the drained lake in Peachtree City so much. Your photographs should come from inside. Look back over your collection of images and think about why you were pulled to take that shot. Develop your why.

Moving from single images to a series can be a difficult leap and some photographers never care to make it. They are content with singles that may have a link or not (truly, they have a link – that ‘why’ again) – certainly developing a series of 20 images or more is not on their radar. It is a good exercise to develop a project, especially a long term project.

A couple of years ago, when I started walking with a group of women getting ready, for of all things, a half marathon; the early morning walks became a type of therapy. We talked and walked enjoying the surroundings and each other. I had my iPhone along to log my miles and times – and bingo, I had a camera. So I started shooting. And they did not wait for me either! If I stopped, I had to run to catch up with them. We walked in the heat, rain, sub-freezing temps. We witnessed the quagmire of Lake Peachtree. I like using quagmire for this for two reasons – one definition is of a boggy place, another definition is of a difficult situation – Lake Peachtree is both! Drained to facilitate dock and edge maintenance, the cracks in the dam elevated it to a bureaucratic mess of finger pointing and who would pay for what. I began to see the beauty of nature – and maybe a little of that old homeplace underwater pushing me to enjoy a drained lake with a damaged damn. Nature reclaimed what was once there, seeds sprouted – native plants and seeds washed from gardens in backyards – flowers and even squash thrived.

March 11, 2015, 6:55

I could not have an exhibition of morning walk photographs without including a few from my favorite place – the beach. These are black and white images framed in German Silver Nielsen metal frames. I like the way they look. Again, water. The images I have here from St. Simons Island’s East Beach were taken on a foggy March morning. At the edge of the ocean the foggy sky, clouds, merged with the ocean. It was magical.

Photography is magical. It allows us to look around and bring home with us scenes that we loved so much we want to keep them forever. We want to show them to others and say, look where I stood. My morning walks with friends are a special time for me. I enjoy it. I have these photos to always remember it and to share with everyone else.

March 11, 2015, 6:26

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